Wal-Mart, University of Arkansas And Blue Cross Blue Shield Announce Center Of Excellence To Boost Use Of Information Technology In Health Care Operations

Better Use of Technology Will Benefit Consumers by Improving Safety and Quality


BENTONVILLE, Ark. – March 28, 2007 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE: WMT) announced today it will partner with the University of Arkansas and Blue Cross Blue Shield to create a research center to focus on improving the health care delivery system with the use of information technology.

The Center for Innovation in Health Care Logistics will be dedicated to conducting research aimed at identifying and addressing gaps and roadblocks in the application and delivery of health information technology, and highlighting and replicating proven applications that are working to benefit patients and providers.

The goal of the Center’s work is to put the right materials in the hands of doctors and nurses where and when they need them; it also aims to eliminate the threat of medical errors arising from wasteful and unreliable practices in health care supply networks.

In making the announcement, Wal-Mart Vice Chairman John Menzer said the Center’s work will help fill a large information gap in the health care system. “The best example of this need was Hurricane Katrina. Medical records, property records, court records were lost. Entire family histories – medical, cultural and otherwise – were gone in an instant, and the entire region is still recovering from this massive loss of information,” Menzer said.

The center’s creation was announced today during a health information technology meeting of business, IT and health care leaders held in Rogers, Ark., and hosted by Wal-Mart.

“The University of Arkansas has a strong track record of success with industry-university research collaborations in the ever-changing realms of information technology and logistics,” said University Chancellor John A. White. “A fundamental purpose of any flagship university is to stimulate economic success and enhance quality of life. We are well positioned to leverage our  logistics center experience to ensure success in identifying real solutions for transforming health care processes, which holds benefits for the State of Arkansas and the entire nation.”

“Blue Cross Blue Shield is proud to join Wal-Mart and the University of Arkansas in this worthy venture,” said Bob Shoptaw, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield Arkansas. “We look forward to contributing to the advancement of health care technology through the creation of this research center.”

The Center’s initial work will address information technology-based innovations for bringing visibility and tracking to every level of health care procurement and distribution processes.

Experience shows that such transparency leads to significant cost savings by eliminating duplication and confusion, enhancing collaboration among participating organizations and avoiding mistakes that can lead to dangerous errors.

Professor Ron Rardin will be the Center’s Executive Director. Before joining the University of Arkansas, Dr. Rardin led the National Science Foundation’s efforts to foster research in health care delivery and later played a key leadership role in Purdue University’s Regenstrief Center for Health Care Engineering.

“Although health care presents formidable challenges, many of the needed solutions can be adapted from innovations in other industries, including those where our corporate partners have been leaders,” Dr. Rardin said. “The Center’s efforts will focus on identifying and replicating best-practice solutions, as well as conducting novel research to address technology gaps and roadblocks.”

Wal-Mart, as the lead strategic partner, will pledge $1 million over five years to fund the center. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas, Alabama and Illinois have joined Wal-Mart as partners. The Center will also raise money from other private sector companies, government agencies and foundations to help conduct its research and demonstration projects.

“At Wal-Mart’s core is a commitment to take what we do best and share it so our customers and communities can benefit,” said Linda Dillman, the company’s executive vice president of risk management, benefits and sustainability. “By partnering with the University of Arkansas, we intend to share expertise in technology and turn the theoretical discussion of health information technology into real applications so consumers can benefit through greater access to information, higher safety rates and enhanced quality.”

Wal-Mart’s leadership in helping create the center is another step in the company’s ongoing efforts to find innovative ways to help solve the nation’s health care problems. In addition to introducing a highly successful $4 generic prescription program in all of its U.S. pharmacies last fall, Wal-Mart and several other companies announced they would lead Dossia, a non-profit organization, which will provide the framework for private electronic personal health records. Wal-Mart also partnered in February 2007 with leaders in business, government, labor and public policy communities to launch the “Better Health Care Together” campaign, which laid out a set of four common sense principles for achieving a new American health care system by 2012.

About the University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the flagship school of the UA system, is a nationally competitive, student centered research university serving Arkansas and the world. With an enrollment of nearly 18,000 students and more than 830 faculty, the University competes internationally in advancing research and academia. The University offers 194 degrees ranging from baccalaureate to doctorate in fine arts and sciences, agriculture, food and life sciences, architecture, business, education, engineering, nursing, social work and law. It also conducts more than $100 million in research annually, ranking it among the nation’s leading comprehensive centers of innovation and discovery.

About Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart discount stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club locations in the United States. The Company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. The Company’s securities are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WMT. More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting www.walmartfacts.com. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com.
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